Since the disastrous Citizens United decision two years ago, there has been an unprecedented flood of corporate special interest money into the political process, much of it from the oil industry and other polluters. While we cannot take directions from any candidate on our independent activities, we will respect the People's Pledge agreed to by Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown. We hope that Scott Brown will honor his end of the deal when Crossroads and the Koch Brothers inevitably break it.
In retrospect, many may wonder what led Scott Brown to quickly initiate this ceasefire, especially with such formidable corporate supporters with deep pockets. With the pledge now agreed upon by both candidates and presumably being followed, LCV thought it prudent to take a look back at the influences behind this decision by Scott Brown.
The fall of 2011 proved to be tumultuous time for Brown's popularity. The following timeline of events likely contributed to his decision to initiate the People's Pledge:
- SEPTEMBER 2011 -- A UMass Lowell -- Boston Herald Political Poll shows Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown about even among registered voters in the race for Massachusetts' U.S. Senate seat. Brown 41% - Warren 38%
- OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2011 -- LCV runs 1.8 million in television advertising in Massachusetts highlighting Senator Scott Brown's record in Washington of putting corporate polluters ahead of public health.
- NOVEMBER 2011 -- Elizabeth Warren is targeted with $596,000 in negative television advertising bought by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a political organization founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.
- DECEMBER 2011-- A UMass Lowell -- Boston Herald Political Poll shows Elizabeth Warren has gained an apparent lead over Republican incumbent Scott Brown for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Warren 49% - Brown 42%
- JANUARY 2012 -- Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown agree to a joint pledge to try to limit outside advertising in the Massachusetts Senate race.
Clearly Scott Brown saw that in a spending war that exposed his voting record, he would ultimately lose out. It's important to note that LCV's advertising campaign was exactly that: non-electoral issue advertising aimed at educating Brown's constituents about his anti-environment voting record and to encourage them to contact the senator regarding pending legislation. In fact these ads were part of a larger legislative accountability effort that focused on the votes of multiple members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and across the country.
LCV believes that when unlimited spending is allowed in the electoral arena, misinformation campaigns by Big Oil and other special interests will be amplified and more lethal, potentially drowning out the voices of the majority of Americans who support investing in clean American energy, reducing our dangerous dependence on oil and protecting vital public health safeguards. LCV has a 40 year history of lobbying Congress to pass pro-environment legislation, working to hold members of Congress accountable for their votes, and electing pro-environment leaders. This history -- along with our 400,000 supporters across the country -- sets us apart from the secretive oil billionaires who have tried to hijack our political process. But we know that the only thing oil companies have going for them are their deep pockets, so if this agreement in Massachusetts will help sideline them, we welcome it.